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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2015-05-11 15:44
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Thank you.
Mr. Minister, in the United States there's a vigorous debate going on among the President, Congress, and civil society concerning the TPP. In the interest of transparency, American legislators of all parties are permitted access to the negotiated text of the TPP upon signing confidentiality commitments.
Will you permit the same privilege to Canadian legislators so we can foster a similar level of debate in our country?
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Mark Gayler
View Mark Gayler Profile
Mark Gayler
2014-04-03 9:06
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Hello, and thank you to the committee for inviting me to participate this morning. It's bright and early in Vancouver.
My name is Mark Gayler. I work for Microsoft Canada. I've been working with Microsoft for more than 10 years. I'm a technology strategist for Microsoft Canada. I work primarily with municipalities. As part of that role, I'm a subject matter expert on open data and open source technologies.
I'd like to comment on a few things. First of all, I very much appreciate the comments by my colleagues David and Ms. Miller just previously.
One of the things I have experience with is working with different governments around the world, and so I've been engaged with open data projects in Canada, but also in the U.S.A.., Colombia, Japan, central and eastern Europe, and the U.K. I'd like to make some comparisons, even though I totally and fully agree with David's comment earlier on that it's dangerous to make comparisons in terms of a league table. But I think there are some insights we can gain from what other countries are doing compared with how open data has evolved in Canada today.
I'd like to start there, and then I'd like to pick up on a couple of other points that my colleagues have raised already.
What is interesting about the way open data is evolving around the world is that it's evolving in different ways based on the way that government agencies have chosen to engage it.
For example, in the U.K. and the U.S., we see a very top-down approach whereby the U.K. and U.S. governments at the very top levels of government have sponsored open data initiatives. They are driving adoption of open data throughout government departments and agencies, and we see this top-down approach as it flows downwards through the government infrastructure.
I would say that in Canada what we have seen is more of a bottom-up approach to open data. In early days it was adopted primarily by the cities, and then the provinces caught up. I think Vancouver started in April 2009, and we have seen other cities adopt open data initiatives. Then the provinces have come in, and I think the federal government has come in after some of these cities and smaller agencies had already adopted open data initiatives.
That explains why we see different countries and different initiatives at different stages of evolution, to a certain degree.
In the U.K. and U.S., I would say that open data initiatives across government are fairly mature and fairly consistent in the way open data is thought of. I would say that in Canada we see open data being adopted in different ways at different levels of government jurisdiction.
The second point I'd like to make around this is that as we look around the world, it's important to understand that open data itself is not an end point. Open data is a transition to something else. It's an enabler for other things to happen. It's an enabler for such things as economic stimulus, as we have discussed, and I'm sure we'll discuss more on that during the session. It's an enabler particularly for citizen engagement, getting citizens actively involved and participating in the business of government.
I think it also represents a cultural change internally for government and government agencies. When I've been around the world talking to national and provincial and state governments about their open data initiatives and the way we can use open data to engage citizens, particularly those parts of citizenry we may not already be engaged with, a big comment that I get at the end of my engagement with that particular government is: this is great, but now that we have this capability to share data and to collaborate, we want to do it internally as much as we want to do it externally. I think that point was made very well by my colleagues previously.
The opportunity for the Canadian government here is to provide guidance, to provide a framework to take the open data initiatives that already exist, to create opportunities to share more open data, to engage citizens and third parties and encourage them to share this data and use this data, and to enable the sharing of the data in such a way that it can easily be consumed by any of the actors in the ecosystem, be it a data scientist, a researcher, a citizen, an application developer, or a student.
But it's very important that we understand that this is a cultural change that will lead to other positive benefits; this is not just about sharing data itself. And so it's important that the government provide a framework to encourage parties to collaborate around the sharing and reuse of open data—private-public partnerships, for example—and particularly engage those parts of the citizenry with whom perhaps we are not already engaged and get them actively involved in the business of government.
Let me give you a very simple example. Two weeks ago we ran a teen hackathon in the city of Surrey. The City of Surrey is sharing its open data; they have an open data portal. They invited teens, young people from the ages of 13 to 19, to participate in this hackathon. For half a day we worked with them with technology and showed them how to produce applications. What was interesting is that at the end of it we asked for feedback and ideas, and it was amazing to see these teenagers come up with ideas about how to use transit data to better navigate through the city, how to use weather data to better understand when weather might affect particular tourist spots or landmarks.
You could look at that initially and just say that these are interesting ideas but ask whether they would ever come to any kind of fruition. But what was really interesting about the whole thing was that the city was stimulating students and young people to think about engaging the city in ways that had not previously been possible. These were young people who were thinking about actively working with the city—visitors to the city, citizens of the city. Getting them excited and engaged in looking at ways to improve city services both for visitors and for folks who already live in the city is quite transformational. This is a very simple example of transformational cultural change that can be brought about by sharing open data.
Another example I will give you, from a cultural aspect, comes from when I was engaged with the Government of Colombia. I was invited down there to provide some guidance to them about the way they would share data with their citizens. When I went down there I said I was surprised that the Government of Colombia was thinking about sharing open data, because they're not known, to an external person, for their openness or the way they might engage a citizen in a transparent way; that it might be considered to be a threat to the government.
They said that this was their entire reason for doing it. Whereas other governments say they're doing this for economic stimulus or doing it for better engagement with certain parts of society, in Colombia they are doing it deliberately to show that they're being open and transparent. This is part of their cultural change with their citizens.
The last point I would like to make is that I think the opportunity is huge for Canada to be a leader in this area. Even though we look around the world and see open data initiatives evolving in different ways, we have a long way to go with open data, to speak to David's point earlier on. There is much more that can be done and there is much more transformational benefit that can arise out of open data.
But I think the government can help. It can stimulate this by providing, for frameworks for working particularly in public-private partnerships, guidance in the sharing and openness of data, and also by providing ideas and guidance about the sustainability of open data and how it can be part of the ongoing business of government and citizen engagement, rather than just being seen as an end in itself.
Thank you very much.
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Corinne Charette
View Corinne Charette Profile
Corinne Charette
2014-03-04 8:47
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Good morning and thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
It is a great honour to be here before the committee to speak about our success and our work on open data for the government.
I'm very pleased to be here with my two colleagues to talk about open data. I'll introduce Stephen Walker, who is the senior director for our information management policy sector as well as for open government at TB Secretariat. With him is Sylvain Latour, who is a director of our Open Government Secretariat at TBS.
The way we propose to cover the material this morning is that we have a presentation in two parts, and we propose to have a demo. We will go through the first part of our presentation.
You have in front of you a presentation which, I think, gives a good summary of the key concepts concerning open data.
We'll start off with essentially a primer on open data, what the key concepts are, and then we will stop and do a demonstration. You've noticed the screens in the room. We'll have a live demonstration. Stephen and Sylvain will go through our actual open data portal and show you some examples of the data and how the portal works. Then we'll revert to the presentation to give a summary of what different initiatives are going on within the federal government and with our colleagues across Canada in other jurisdictions, and in fact, on our initiatives internationally on the open data front. Of course, we'd be delighted to answer whatever questions the committee has.
That's what we propose by way of the three-section approach. Before I start into the first part of the presentation, I would like to say that we've just completed a very exciting weekend. On February 28, Minister Clement launched the Canadian Open Data Experience, which is an appathon challenge that brought together, finally, 927 registered participants from across Canada, from universities in all provinces across Canada, to try to see what kinds of applications they could develop using Canada's open data information published on our portal.
It was a very exciting weekend, and at the end of it, preliminary reports suggested that over 100 different apps were developed and will be validated and vetted and be the subject of tough competition. The finale of CODE will be March 28, in Toronto, where the 15 finalists will review their apps with the judges. The finalists will be awarded a prize.
This is very exciting because this would be our first national CODE appathon. Different provinces and cities have had a few, and there have been a number of efforts across Canada, but this is the first on a pan-Canadian basis. The success of CODE is a testimony to the enthusiasm and interest in Canada's open data portal and the information that we make available to Canadians.
With that, I will go into the presentation and hopefully help to demystify this. We'll be doing section 1.
Page 3 is titled “Open Data Fundamentals”. I apologize that some of you may be well aware of this, but we weren't sure so we thought we'd bring everyone to a certain level of knowledge.
So what is raw data?
Raw data is machine-readable data at the lowest level of integration that can be reused alone, or mashed up—as the term is—with other data in innovative ways.The government either generates or collects and aggregates a vast amount of raw data. The best example of raw data would be weather data that we collect through sensors and radar and a variety of other means. We turn that into raw data, numerical data that is available for further processing and manipulation.
So what is metadata? Metadata is data about data. Metadata is key to the potential of open data. Without metadata, the vast numbers of data sets and information that are available are not as useful.
It's very important to describe the contents of a data set and to describe the specific kinds of information in each field of a data set that is presented, so that when application developers go to the data set, they know they're finding the right data set with the right kind of data and they know how to interpret the different fields. That's an important part of using the data effectively. In Canada, making our data available in an open data portal first involves producing metadata in both official languages so that app developers can quickly understand what the nature of the data set is and can use it appropriately.
Finally, what is open data? Open data is the practice that takes the raw data and the metadata and makes it available through a portal, as is the case of data.gc.ca. It allows users to search through the portal for the right data sets and allows them to browse and then to download the data in machine-usable formats so they can develop programs and information systems that can manipulate it and produce other uses for it and greater advantages.
The open data movement is quite well developed today. In October 2013, McKinsey Global reported that the potential for open data to generate economic value is significant. This is McKinsey's view. Certainly, through open data efforts in the U.S., in the U.K., in Canada now, and all over the world, we've seen the rise of many, many businesses through the generation of apps that basically use open data and are now widely available through different online stores and so on. Certainly, all of the large consultancies, including Deloitte, speak to the fact that data is the new capital of the global economy, and the ability to harness the vast amounts of data that we do generate is really a large potential for Canada and for society as a whole.
Just to give you a recap of the history, in Canada we have long been aggregators and generators of data. In fact, the concept of open data started around 1995 with the important stores of geophysical and environmental data that we already collect and manipulate through NRCan and Environment Canada.
In California, of course, in the U.S. in 2007, open data started to become an important movement. In fact, in President Obama's first term, there was really the first important national foray, I guess, into open data, with his mandatory policy on the release of open data. The U.S. launch of that direction certainly stimulated open data movements in the U.K. and internationally. Certainly, we watched in Canada and also thought that this was a valuable movement to embrace. It's really a movement that has grown very quickly, and it is, certainly in Canada, stimulated quite a bit by the work by our cities—cities are very active in open data in Canada—as well as by the provinces and by us in the federal government.
Open data is certainly well established internationally. As you may know, the Open Government Partnership, first launched in 2011 by the U.S. and Brazil as co-chairs, was a strong platform for further developments in open data and making governments accountable, open, and responsive to citizens. Similarly, the World Bank has opened its data, knowledge, and research, and is a strong supporter of open data and of all our efforts.
The Open Knowledge Foundation is a civil society organization dedicated to promoting open data and open content. The OECD has also embraced open data and was present at the 2013 Open Government Partnership conference in the U.K.
Certainly the World Wide Web Foundation is, of course, a strong believer in open data.
Just to give you a capsule of open data in Canada, we're quite pleased with Canada's progress on this front. Four provinces—British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec—have open data portals, as do over 30 cities. In fact, certainly Vancouver was one of the first leaders in open data in Canada and continues to be very dedicated to that, but we're pleased with all of the municipal efforts, including the City of Ottawa, which is also working hard at open data.
Page 8 just contrasts what was it like, how civil society could access the data sets the government created and aggregated and made available, prior to open data. Before open data, the government was already publishing data, but in a different way and in a much smaller and less accessible way. Certainly weather data from Environment Canada has been available for some time, as were maps from Natural Resources Canada.
But what you see on the diagram on the right is one of the fundamental issues of the problem. Each individual department collected and prepared data and made it available on their own individual websites, but not always prominently, often without sufficient, or if you will, standard metadata that described the contents, and not always with appropriate search engines to access it.
So from a user's perspective, it wasn't easy to answer the question of what kind of data is available from the government on topic A or on topic B. The users would routinely have to go through multiple sites, go quite deep into the sites, and then the data was not necessarily in machine-readable format. So while they could visualize it, they couldn't really use it and create an information system.
Finally, an additional issue that users had to tackle at the time was that every individual website made the data available under slightly different licensing terms. The licensing terms are very critical to open data, and the ability to have an open licence that is recognized across Canada, that makes the data available for reuse without restriction on the same terms, is really key.
So that was the situation of data before open data.
Starting in 2009 we started to tackle these questions, and in fact started working on our first view of the licence and the first view of a portal that could potentially make this data available.
Why is open data important for the Government of Canada? Certainly we're strong believers that open data helps to reinforce accountability and the government's agenda. Certainly we are convinced that it does generate economic value for Canadians. It is aligned with our digital strategy, as we are working with our colleagues across government, and it is a key catalyst for innovation and science and technology. We are aligned with our international partners, and the success of CODE, I think, supports the fact that Canadians are equally aligned with it.
Just to highlight the key milestones from a government perspective on open data, in March 2011 the government announced our first open government initiative, and at the time, our first open data portal. That was our first pilot. We launched it with much fewer data sets and with the first version of the licence.
In April 2012 Canada joined the international Open Government Partnership formally. We published our first action plan on open government at that time. The action plan on open government includes, of course, a number of commitments on open data.
In June 2013 the Prime Minister formally adopted the Open Data Charter with other G-8 leaders at the Lough Erne Summit in Northern Ireland.
Just to recap on this part of the presentation, and before we go to the demo of the portal, I'll just say that we have continued to work hard on open data since our joining of the Open Government Partnership.
In fact, this June we launched the second generation open data platform. We now have about 200,000 data sets from 27 departments. We launched with six departments and their data sets. Our search capability is state-of-the-art and we have incorporated social media features onto the site, so we're very pleased with our new portal.
In terms of GC resource management data, the expenditure database was launched in April 2013 to provide Canadians with financial information on departmental spending over the last three years, and we continue to add data sets through all topic areas.
We are working hard right now on a directive on open government, so this will be policy that will help departments and agencies to create a better inventory of their data assets and the information to be published, and provide an implementation timeline for them to achieve this. That will be an important part of our open government action plan commitments, and we're hopeful to see that in the new fiscal year.
Finally, our new open government licence, the second version of which was issued last June, is aligned with a Creative Commons licence. It's plain language. It clearly states the conditions for the reuse of data and aligns with all international best practices.
That's a quick primer on open data. Before we go to the demonstration, would you like to ask any questions?
I am wondering if the committee members would like to ask questions.
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John Logan
View John Logan Profile
John Logan
2012-10-25 16:28
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Thanks very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the members of the committee.
I'm director of labour and employment studies at San Francisco State University. I'm going to talk about the U.S. experience with this type of legislation.
I would like to mention that I don't believe the U.S. is the centre of the universe. I was born in the U.K. Before coming back to California I taught for nine years in the department of management at the London School of Economics. I did graduate work in Canada, but here I think the U.S. experience is very instructive and gives rise to serious concerns about both the cost and the benefits of this type of legislation.
I would like very briefly to make three points. First, I believe very strongly in union transparency and accountability; however, what we have seen in the U.S., particularly under the last Bush administration, which introduced the detailed financial reporting that this bill is based upon, was not real transparency. It was an attempt to politicize regulatory enforcement in the name of transparency.
Second, contrary to what has been stated before, I think there's absolutely incontrovertible evidence that the costs of these new regulations for both government and for unions are very substantial, and I will come back to that point.
Third and finally, I think there's no evidence whatsoever that these detailed financial statements have provided any useful service to ordinary union members. I think the only groups that have used them were the very groups that were pushing for them in the first place, and those have been groups that have a political agenda to weaken unions and to use this information against unions, albeit often in a misleading and distorted way.
First of all, in terms of the attempt to politicize regulatory enforcement in the name of transparency, as has been said about the Canadian legislation, there's absolutely no evidence ordinary union members were pushing for these detailed financial disclosures in the United States. However, there's considerable evidence that groups with a separate political agenda to weaken unions were the very ones were pushing for it, and I'll simply quote from one politician, Newt Gingrich, whom I'm sure you are familiar with. He said that a future Republican administration must impose increased financial reporting requirements. He said, “It will weaken our opponents and encourage our allies”. That's exactly what the Bush administration did in 2000 when it came to power.
The costs associated with these new reporting requirements are very substantial. The costs to the government in terms of processing these forms are a minimum of $6.5 million per year. These figures are from the Federal Register from the Department of Labor. This is under a system in which we have had 60 years of experience. The division of the Department of Labor that does this has been established all that time, and we know how to do this, so if you're talking about establishing an entirely new division and using government resources to train unions in how to comply with the reporting, there's reason to believe it will be significantly more than that.
In the United States about 29,000 labour organizations file these reports. They only apply to private sector unions, not to wholly public sector organizations, as I believe is the case in Canada.
Importantly, the major cost is the filing of the so-called LM-2 forms, which require the itemizing of expenditures of $5,000 or more. In the U.S. these apply only to labour organizations with revenues over $250,000 per year. We have much simpler forms for smaller organizations. There's a separate form for organizations with revenues between $10,000 and $250,000 a year and a separate form for organizations with revenues under $10,000 a year.
This is not the case in Canada. In Canada everyone will be submitting the more detailed forms, and this is what incurs the costs, both to government and to the unions.
The costs to the unions are very substantial. The Department of Labor estimates the cost of complying with the LM-2 forms, which are the types that are under consideration with this bill, to be $116 million in the first year, $83 million in the second year, $82 million in the third year, and so on.
We also have a very extensive academic survey conducted by scholars at Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University of over 100 national and international unions in the United States. In my submitted comments, I'll summarize the findings.
Simply, one of the findings is—
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View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2012-06-07 9:51
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Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, gentlemen, for being here. It's a long trip, I know. Thank you for making the effort to be here.
Mr. Jenkins, I wanted to go back to some of your comments, which really disturbed me, at the end of your testimony, when you were given an opportunity by Mr. Trost. I wanted to explore that a little bit.
You said that timelines are a huge problem in the Yukon context. Just this week, the government dispatched 10 ministers across the country to talk about the two-year timeline for regulatory reform, only to have it confirmed that in fact clock stoppages on behalf of a proponent of a project will delay way beyond two years, in most cases some of the largest projects we have. For example, in the context of the NWT, Imperial Oil was responsible for four years of delay—four years of delay—for the pipeline. It had nothing to do with the regulatory system.
I want to come back to the comments you made, which were really troubling for me, as a Canadian. You talked about undue influence by outsiders. You named the Yukon Conservation Society. You named the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the David Suzuki Foundation. You said they were funnelling money from the United States. Can you tell us how you know that? How do you know they're funnelling money from the United States?
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Peter Jenkins
View Peter Jenkins Profile
Peter Jenkins
2012-06-07 9:55
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If you look at the end result of that money, you will find that in some cases it's for investment opportunity and for the return on the investment. With respect to a lot of this foundation money that is flowing into Canada, it's to create a park, from Yellowstone National Park to Yukon.
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View John McCallum Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think I'm almost out of time. I'll just make two points to conclude.
I certainly agree with you that allowing MPs to add money to estimates is a terrible idea. I think that's what they have in the U.S. I think they call them “riders”. There'd be a feeding frenzy to get money into everyone's riding. I don't think we want to go there.
The last point is I think the U.S. is way ahead of us in terms of having government openness on its websites and being able to drill down. Are you aware of that in the U.S.? Would you agree that they are way ahead of Canada in this respect?
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Joe Jordan
View Joe Jordan Profile
Hon. Joe Jordan
2012-02-27 17:11
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I'm not that familiar with what they do specifically, but I can tell you there are private sector websites. There's one into which you can type the name of any company in Canada, and it will tell you if it's had any money under government contract for the last 10 years. If that information exists in the private sector, why isn't the government incorporating those things into its website too?
I think everyone is ahead of the government, John.
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John Sullivan
View John Sullivan Profile
John Sullivan
2012-02-13 15:33
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Thank you very much. I really appreciate the invitation to be here. I'm thrilled that your committee is holding these hearings and looking into the subject, as you might expect. It's our life blood, so we're thrilled that you're doing this.
By way of background, I should mention that the Center for International Private Enterprise is an affiliate of the United States Chamber of Commerce. As you may know, the U.S. Chamber is one of the largest associations of private sector business. Our centre is funded by the U.S. government principally through the National Endowment for Democracy, which I will return to in a moment.
As we saw recently at the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, it is becoming generally accepted that the private sector needs to be at the centre of development. It drives economic growth, job creation, innovation, and opportunity. However—and this also came out to some extent at the private sector forum that was held at the Busan meeting—many of the international development initiatives that are going on, including many of the ones of the U.S. government, really focus more on individual entrepreneurs rather than the institutional reforms needed to remove barriers to doing business and create the kind of enabling environment that drives entrepreneurship.
You have already heard from Hernando de Soto. He was here testifying before you. Hernando was our very first project in 1984. We helped him get started, and we continue to work with him. We just finished up a project working with Hernando in the indigenous regions of Peru, but we've also worked with him in Egypt and a number of other places. I wholeheartedly endorse what he's saying, which is very similar to my message.
I'd like to tell you what somebody said who taught both Hernando and me a great deal about this, and that's the Nobel Laureate, Douglass North. Doug has summarized the entire history of economic growth and development in one sentence. Now forgive me; it's a very long sentence. It should be.
Doug said that economic growth is about going from personal exchange, to where you can only do business with people you know, are related to, have some personal tie to, and therefore can trust, to being able to do business with strangers, and to get from here to here you have to put in place a whole set of institutions, and that's the enabling environment: a court system that will enforce contracts; property rights that can be enforced—as Hernando was talking about to a great extent; and bankruptcy.
A whole range of institutions needs to be in place, yet all too often in our development programs we focus more on trying to teach entrepreneurship. That's very important. We do it ourselves in Afghanistan, Peru, and elsewhere. But if you're just teaching entrepreneurship, you're not putting in place the institutions.
What you really need is the kind of institutional environment that Canada, the United States, and much of western Europe have. Yet in much of the developing world, as we see, corruption, red tape, favouritism, the lack of a voice, and the ability to affect policy and decisions really constrain the entrepreneurial sector.
Reducing poverty comes down to the policy reforms that expand access to opportunity and instill confidence in these market institutions. As Doug says, ultimately the rule of law binds a lot of this together in different ways, but for much of the world that has meant fully functioning democratic institutions creating that rule of law.
As I mentioned, we're an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so you won't be surprised that our method of working is to partner with business associations, think tanks, sometimes with chambers of commerce, and other civil society organizations in the developing countries to build their capacity to affect law and regulation in public policy in areas like anti-corruption, advocacy, the management and strengthening of business associations, and corporate governance, which is incredibly important but, as we found out ourselves the hard way, is missing in so many of the developing countries.
Until the early 2000s, when the coalition that we were part of helped create it, there were no words for corporate governance in the Arabic language. It took two years to get that translated, and now we have an official seal issued by an Islamic institute with a stamp with the translation on it, and the translated words are now being used throughout the Middle East. That's a game changer.
Why do we do this? Well, because we found that these barriers to entrepreneurship are really what is keeping the majority of the population in so many countries trapped in that informal sector that Hernando talked about.
We've also found that top-down reforms tend not to work. We found something we called the reality gap. When fly-in experts come to a country, help create these institutions or write the laws, they then get translated into the local languages and passed by Parliament. They sit there like a hovercraft on water, never really touching it. We've actually measured the reality gap in some countries. It's the gap between what the law says on paper and what the real practices are. Unless you get the local business associations and private sector engaged, you can't see that gap; it just isn't visible to you.
One of the things that came out of the Busan meeting was a recommitment to public-private dialogue. In the joint statement between the public sector and the private sector that was issued during the Busan forum, they committed to five principles, and I'd like to just end by mentioning those: an inclusive dialogue for building a policy environment that is conducive to sustainable development—and by policy dialogue I mean dialogue, a two-way conversation between the public and the private sector; collective action, strengthening the associations and other CSO-NGO operations; sustainability, so that we know these institutions will stay in place; transparency; and finally, accountability for results.
I could give you lots of examples of programs that drive this kind of reform. My personal favourite is something that a coalition of Pakistani groups did, with which we were involved, where we changed the law. It was called the Trade Organizations Ordinance, basically the law on associations. Beginning in 2006, for the first time women can now form and be on the boards of trade associations in Pakistan. They have seven of their own, they're building more, and all of a sudden they have much more of a voice. Without voice, one doesn't get to accountability, one doesn't get these policy reforms, and there is no room for the private sector to move in and participate.
Thank you very much.
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Stéphanie Yates
View Stéphanie Yates Profile
Stéphanie Yates
2012-02-09 12:00
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Before I answer the question, I'd like to go back to the first one, which was whether there are inspiring examples elsewhere in the world.
I agree that no legislation is necessarily perfect. But to come back to the American example, I think the definition of lobbying adopted by the American legislator seems quite relevant. It includes preparation, strategic advice and calls that aren't strictly lobbying within the meaning of our act, but that fall under this idea of influence.
In fact, people are very cynical when they see a former minister leaving his duties, and becoming a strategic advisor, and not a lobbyist, with a consulting firm the next day. While I'm not saying that the American model is the model to use, when it comes to the definition of lobbying, I think there's something very interesting in that model.
To come back to the question about ethical lobbying compared with non-ethical lobbying, I think there's a significant risk of deviation. I think the Canadian legislation needs to build on transparency. We will get to that stage when we are truly transparent, especially when it comes to ethical and non-ethical activities. In that respect, saying that certain activities from charity or community organizations don't need to be registered because they're obviously ethical may result in some deviation. I think transparency must prevail.
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